Iris Chang Compilation: 1997-2004

Iris Shun-Ru Chang (March 28, 1968 – November 9, 2004) was a Chinese American journalist, author of historical books and political activist. Listen to The Rape of Nanking for free:

She is best known for her best-selling 1997 account of the Nanking Massacre, The Rape of Nanking, and in 2003, The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. Chang is the subject of the 2007 biography, Finding Iris Chang, and the 2007 documentary film Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking starring Olivia Cheng as Iris Chang. The independent 2007 documentary film Nanking was based on her work and dedicated to her memory.

Chang wrote three books documenting the experiences of Chinese and Chinese Americans in history. Her first, Thread of the Silkworm (Basic Books, 1995) tells the life story of the Chinese professor, Hsue-Shen Tsien (or Qian Xuesen) during the Red Scare in the 1950s. Although Tsien was one of the founders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and for many years helped the military of the United States debrief scientists from Nazi Germany, he was suddenly accused of being a spy and a member of the Communist Party USA, and was placed under house arrest from 1950 to 1955. Tsien left for the People’s Republic of China in September 1955. Upon his return to China, Tsien developed the Dongfeng missile program, and later the Silkworm missile, which was used by the Iraqi military during its war on Iran and against the United States-led coalitions during the Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Her second book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997), was published on the 60th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre and was motivated in part by her own grandparents’ stories about their escape from the massacre. It documents atrocities committed against Chinese by forces of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and includes interviews with victims. The Rape of Nanking remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for 10 weeks. Based on the book, an American documentary film, Nanking, was released in 2007.

The book attracted both praises for exposing the details of the atrocity and criticisms because of alleged inaccuracies. After publication of the book, Chang campaigned to persuade the Japanese government to apologize for its troops’ wartime conduct and to pay compensation.

Her third book, The Chinese in America: A Narrative History (2003), is a history of Chinese Americans, that argues their treatment as perpetual outsiders by American society. Consistent with the style of her earlier works, the book relies heavily on personal accounts, drawing its strong emotional content from their stories. She wrote, “The America of today would not be the same America without the achievements of its ethnic Chinese,” and that “scratch the surface of every American celebrity of Chinese heritage and you will find that, no matter how stellar their achievements, no matter how great their contribution to US society, virtually all of them have had their identities questioned at one point or another.”


Chang, Iris (1996). Thread of the Silkworm. Basic Books. p. 352.
——— (1997). The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. Basic Books. p. 290.
——— (2003). The Chinese in America. A Narrative History. Penguin.

Publications about Iris Chang:
Iris Chang and the Forgotten Holocaust (2006)
Iris Chang Memorial Fund (2008). The Denial and Its Cost: Reflections on the Nanking Massacre 70 Years Ago and Beyond : Best Essays from Iris Chang Memorial Essay Contest 2007. New York, NY: Cozy House Publisher.
Kamen, Paula (2007). Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind. Da Capo Press.
Chang, Ying-Ying 張盈盈 (2011). The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking. introduction by Richard Rhodes. Pegasus Books.

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